30 November 2016

arnold 3

Terry the Hippy


Every so often Arnold's parents would go for an evening out. Usually to have a break from Arnold's weird and wonderful world,  and his persistent nagging. Terry was their next door neighbour, and was always willing to help out when needed. Terry was a hippy, and he didn't work, so the money came in useful! Money helped him to 'keep up' his hippy ways! Whatever they were. He was in his seventies but the age of the hippy had never deserted him. Terry has long scraggly hear, always wore flared trousers, and beads around his neck. He also played in a pub band called the Parsley Sprigs Progressive Movement. Prog rocks forgotten band! 

"Ok Arnold, Terry is coming to look after you tonight, so be a good boy. Alright?"

"Yes Mum," Arnold replied, anxiety across his face. Arnold thought that whenever Terry babysat, he was always going to turn him into a hippy. Their conversations centred around progressive rock music and other hippy centred themes! Arnold just wanted to talk about cars and trains and other things a five year old would talk about.

The doorbell rang and Arnold, dodging Mr P. took cover behind the sofa. Mr P. stooped his way to the front door and opened it.

"Evening Mr P." Terry said as the door opened, Fingers displaying the peace sign. 
"Thanks Terry, come on in. We'll be back by eleven. If you need anything it all in the kitchen."
"Yeah, peace and love," Terry replied. Mr and Mrs P. hurried out of the door. Arnold was left in the hands of a hippy!

"Right little fella. Where are you? Ready to talk music?" He exclaimed as he threw his plastic bag of old vinyl records on the sofa. "I'll tell you something Arnold. CD's suck. No life in them. LP's are where its at. Rock your socks off boy, yeah, cool."

Arnold had tentatively emerged from behind the sofa. Sitting bravely on the sofa's edge. 

"Now this is an interesting one," Terry stated pulling an old record from the bag. "Emerson, Lake and Palmer, now that's prog!" Arnold sat totally dis-interested. He preferred One Direction. He wanted to talk about his new Thunderbirds toy, but before he could open his mouth Terry was up and in search of the record player. 

"Now kiddo, this is our bands new song. It's only 23 minutes long! Great lyrics man, written by me. "Into the bubble of love / Take the orange sparkling sun to the centre of my heart and kiss the shores of love." Song's called Tales from the Topographic Orange Sun, that lyrics in Part 4 called Shore of Love." Terry said. 

"It's rubbish." Arnold said. 
"Let me explain." Terry continued. And for the next five minutes he read the lyrics. Arnold desperately trying to butt in! 
"You play in a pub band don't you?" He finally managed to say. 
"Pub band it may be Arnold, but we're going places."
"What like the old peoples home." Arnold replied with a chuckle. 
"Yeah well, lets have a listen. Absorb yourself in the sounds of the ocean and that mystical drum beat." 

Suddenly the record kicked in and this awful sound came out of the speakers. Arnold put his fingers to his ears, desperately trying to block out the sounds. Terry was already dancing around the room, doing strange things with his hands and legs. 

Hours seemed to pass by. Arnold sat on the sofa, fingers still in his ears. He wanted to watch TV. 
"Keep it real Arnold." Terry said. ''The bubble of purple love, transcends the barriers to our hearts."' He sang. 'How does it sound?'
"Rubbish," Arnold replied once more. He decided to hide back behind the sofa. Seemed a safer place than in full view of a dancing hippy! 

After the fourth listen, Arnold suddenly started to smell something very strange. It was a unfamiliar smell and as he took a few deep breaths he suddenly felt a little light headed. He peered around the sofa and could see Terry, who was in some kind of trance like state, lying on the floor laughing. Clearly something was wrong. He started to laugh little himself, his head was spinning a little and he started to sing One Direction songs! He laughed and laughed as he sang. Terry sat up at this development and sat watching a 5 year old dancing around the room and singing and laughing at the top of his voice. Terry panicked. He looked at his digital watch. It was nearly 11pm. Mr and Mrs P. would be back soon! What was he thinking. Cursing himself, he tried to stand up, but started laughing and rolled around on the floor. Unbeknown to him Mr and Mrs P. had already returned and as they entered the living room were greeted by a dancing, prancing boy and a rolling hippy in hysterics. 

"Wow Mum, you're groovy." Arnold slurred when he spotted them. 
"ARNOLD!" she screamed.
"Have you heard Terry's latest record. It's rubbish," Arnold said laughing. "Records are the future, yeah cool, man. Hey Dad, you're the funk master!"
'Heavens above, he's turned into Terry!' was all Mr P. could say. 

Arnold was still laughing as he was dragged upstairs to his room. Terry was last seen kneeling, pleading his innocence. Although that seemed to be falling on death ears!

"Terry get out of my house before I ram those records where the sun doesn't shine." Mrs P. shouted as she came down the stairs. Terry, knowing better than to argue, swaggered his way out of the living room and the front door, desperately trying not to chuckle as he did so. 

Arnold on the other hand was asleep, dreaming of dancing hippies and orange gates!? 


29 November 2016

arnold 2

Apple Pie


It was dinner time at Arnold's' house on the corner. He had already munched his way through his mini steak and chips, and was waiting in anticipation for his pudding. Arnold loved his pudding, always gobbling it down, often leaving a mess on the dining table. He was rolling his spoon around on the kitchen table surface, his mind on the pudding to come. Sometimes the puddings he didn't much like (and they were few), would start to taunt him. They would sing and shout, telling him to eat them, even though he didn't like it. This would especially happen with Apple Pie

Arnold hated apple pie. For that reason they were especially nasty to him, unfortunately tonight he was having, apple pie! Mrs P. placed the freshly made pie in front of him, and before he could turn his nose up at them and push the plate away, the apple pie started talking to him. It's lid opening as a mouth.

"Hello Arnold, its pudding time! Eat me, eat me, ha ha ha," it sang. 
"Go away. I don't like you." He whispered. Arnold turned to mum. "Mum I don't like apple pie, its taunting me!"

Mrs P turned from her washing and in her soft patient tone she replied. 'Just eat it!'
"But Mum, I hate apple pie!"
"Eat!" Mum replied, her tone with a hint of anger.
"You will eat me! Mum, mum, Arnold's not eating me, ha, ha."
"Stop it, stop it. I'll never eat you," Arnold whispered in reply. His voice a little louder this time.

"ARNOLD!" Mrs P shouted. "Stop talking to yourself and eat your pie, NOW."
"Ok, Mum," Arnold said meekly.

He was about to put the pie in his mouth when his older brother Alan burst through the kitchen door and plonked himself on a chair. He ran his hands through his greasy hair and noticed that Arnold was whispering to an apple pie. 

"Who are you talking to squirt?" Alan's voice sounded neither high pitched or deep toned. He was heading into his teenage years. 

"Arnold, Arnold. Your brother's voice is breaking. You think it's funny, don't you Arnold." The apple pie sang once more. "Alan", the pie screamed, "Arnold thinks your voice sounds strange, and he thinks you've got a big nose too, ha, ha, ha." 
"Stop it," Arnold screamed.
"Stop what? Squirt," Alan responded.
"The apple pie has been making fun of you. It said that your voice sounds funny and that you have a big nose. It's trying to wind you up and blame me"
"Said what? You're weird Arnold, just weird." Alan exclaimed, his voice more high pitched than normal. "I'm not going to waste my time talking to strange little kids like you. I have a date with Suzie to think about."
"Who's Suzie?" Arnold asked.
"Alan's got a spotty girlfriend," the apple pie sang.
"Mum, please tell this apple pie to stop. He's driving me mad!"

The situation was driving Mrs P. mad. What with a 5 year old boy talking to apple pies and a teenager whose voice was breaking and already thinking about date nights with girls. She turned and gave Arnold a stare, that was clearly implying him to shove the apple pie in his mouth!

'This is fun, isn't it Arnold?' The apple pie screamed in delight. 

Arnold decided that enough was enough. He wasn't going to get the blame or a punch from his brother. So although this was going to be very tough, he closed his eyes, opened his mouth and in one huge gulp he put the pie into his mouth. Down it went, still singing and laughing as Arnold started to chew. Thankfully the ordeal was over, the pie had stopped singing. He jumped down from his chair and was about to go and play when Mrs P, turned to the boys and told them something that was to ruin their day.

"By the way Arnold. Terry will be babysitting you tomorrow night. Your father and I are out at Mavis's for dinner."

Arnold's misery was complete. Having just endured eating the horrible apple pie, now the news that Terry, the hippy who lived next door was going to babysit him. He turned and dragged his feet across the floor. Knowing what impending doom was to greet him when Terry would knock on the door tomorrow evening. Alan turned to Mrs P.

"Whats wrong with him?" Alan asked.
"It's Terry, he'll have to sit and listen to him going on about Prog rock music and such like."
"Ah," Alan replied. "Impending doom indeed!" He stated. 


28 November 2016


The House on the Corner

This is Arnold . He's five and very much like every other five year old boy. For instance, he's always getting his clothes dirty from tripping over things (often his own feet) and playing in the dirt, digging holes! 


He picks his ears for Ear Wax, and when no-ones looking often his nose (eating the Boogies!) He has to wear hand-me-downs from his older brother, Alan, that have holes in them and look like they have seen better days. He doesn't eat Brussel sprouts or cauliflower! Ugh! Always wants sweets, and is forever losing his things, like toys and socks.

Arnold thinks that everything is a game. Well you would if you're five, wouldn't you? He loves playing trains and planes, much to the annoyance of his brother. Occasionally he'll do naughty things like break his mum's favourite ornament or hide Dad's favourite pair of slippers. On one occasion he said dad's slippers in the shed. What he didn't realise was that there was an large gathering of slugs! It had started to rain and well, slugs like to come out when it rains. So they looked for an exit route. Some of these slugs thought that the slippers were such an exit, well it look inviting to them anyway. Although I can't think why? So when Arnold's Dad, that's Mr P. in these tales, found the slippers and put them on his naked toes his feet were greeted with a most unpleasant, slimy feeling! As well as the cries of an angry parent!

"ARNOLD!" Mr P yelled, turning his voice horse!
Arnold didn't dare hide them thereafter! Mr P decided that slippers weren't for him! Sticking to socks. 

So as you can see, life was all it should be for a small boy growing up in a nondescript house, in a nondescript town. So lets enjoy some of his stories. Arnold - the adventures of a five year old.  


There is a house on a corner of a street. It has a front door, one small downstairs window, two above and a small back garden that leads onto a muddy footpath, with a field and woods beyond. This is the house that Arnold lives at with his family; Mr and Mrs P, and his older brother Alan. They live next door to an ageing hippy called Terry. He's in his seventies now, but still thinks its 1970! 

Terry is always playing prog rock records at high volume and trying to convert Arnold to this way of 'Prog'! He sometimes babysits Arnold when Mr and Mrs P need to take a well deserved break. Which is often! 

They are a happy family, enjoying their evenings together, huddled around the TV, watching the latest celebrity reality programme and screaming at who gets voted off. Although Alan being a teenage boy prefers his time trying to chat up the girls, playing games on his phone and pretending to be butch and macho. Secretly though continues to build models and has a teddy bear.  

As we already know Arnold is five, at school he has many friends, oh and some girlfriends too. Although being five he's not so keen on playing with the girls. He'd rather get muddy or kick a football,  pretend to be a Star Wars character and such like. Most of all Arnold loves to use his imagination, which takes him on many strange and wonderful adventures. Some of which you'll about to read. So let's enter his world. A world of babysitting hippies, primary school teachers with bad teeth and talking apple pies! 

5 November 2016

alison reynolds

There is something exciting about discovering new music. Finding new sounds and artists that would never otherwise be on your radar. Well it beats the humdrum, manufactured sounds of modern pop music. Sketches has been fortunate and privileged over the past year to have interviewed a number of upcoming, young British folk artists. All different in their musical approach, all exciting in what message they are conveying. All deserving of success. For our latest interview we've crossed the pond (metaphorically on this occasion) to chat with multi instrumentalist (cello, guitar), singer / songwriter, Alison Reynolds from Canada. It's a candid, inspiring interview, so grab yourself a cuppa and enjoy Alison's story.

folk musician
Photo courtesy of Alison Reynolds

SketchesWhat first made you pick up the cello?
Alison: I started playing cello in grade school. It was 4th grade, I
believe, and in those days, Orchestra classes started in 4th grade (really wish it was still the same way but unfortunately, we don’t hold teaching the arts as a priority.) I have two older sisters who had already started orchestra and they played violin and viola respectively so, they figured I should play cello so we could have a trio!

Well, I didn’t even know what a cello was!! I’m sure my eyes popped out of my head when the teacher brought it out to me. It was bigger than I was! Back then, there was no such thing as ¼, ½ or ¾ sized cellos. I’ll never forget carrying my cello on the bus everyday!

Funny thing is, my sisters both quit playing a few years later but, for some reason, I kept going (and going, and going.)

(S:) Were you ever tempted to try other instruments?
(A:) Oh, yes, indeed! While we still lived in El Paso, Tx., I started playing Baritone Ukulele. I took private lessons while still playing cello in school. Then I went through a clarinet phase when my family lived in Flagstaff Az. Then, when my family and I moved to Canada at the beginning of my High School years, I started playing flute.

If I had gone to High School in the U.S., there would have been several music classes I could choose to take. I’d had 5 years of playing cello by then and I knew music was going to be my future! When we moved to Canada, we lived in North Bay Ont., quite a ways north of Toronto. It was a beautiful small town and I was excited about living in a different country! Then came school. . . there were no choices in music classes, it was either band or orchestra and I discovered that everyone was just starting to play, while I had already had 5 years of playing cello in school plus private lessons!! I was devastated! My only choice was to join band and I decided to pick up flute. I ended up playing flute for quite a while (even after embarking on my professional journey. . .more on that later!) Never stopped playing cello though and while in high school, I traded in my baritone uke for a guitar, started a rather successful Folk Club and did a lot of singing and playing guitar. I remember almost quiting playing cello because it was “nerdy” but, fortunately, my friends talked me out of that idea!

The school put on musicals every year and I badly wanted to be on stage singing but, once my orchestra/band teacher found out I could play cello, I was sent into the orchestra pit. I had such a longing to be on stage!! At least the Folk Club gave me that opportunity!

folk musician
Photo courtesy of Alison Reynolds 

(S:) Tell us a little about your musical journey
(A:) In 1972, my musical life changed forever! The Canadian government sponsored a summer music program called “Summersounds ‘72”. The music directors of that program set off to various towns in Ontario to audition musicians 16-20 years old. North Bay was one town they visited and I auditioned. I won the spot to represent North Bay and that summer, I headed to Niagra on the Lake to rehearse with all the other musicians who won spots. We stayed in the dorms of Niagra Christian College and rehearsed for two weeks. It was a varied program from folk music to rock. This is where I learned how to improvise on cello. After 2 weeks, we hit the road and for about a month, we took our show to many different towns in Ontario, from tiny paper mill towns in Northern Ont. to Ottawa and ending in Toronto. It is a summer I will never forget and it helped shape the music I do now.

I met my first music partner, Patricia Watson, while in that group. She lived in Sudbury (about 80 miles north of North Bay.) After I finished High School, my family moved to Sudbury. Pat and I got together and formed the duo Watson and Reynolds.

Pat played piano, guitar and flute and I played cello, guitar, mandolin, and flute so we had quite a diverse instrumentation going on! We both sang and our voices blended extremely well.  (See below from a TV programme they did)

We became pretty popular fairly quickly and moved to Toronto to further our career. I think the high point came when we were asked to open for Gino Vanelli at the Opera House in Ottawa. We finished our set with a piano/cello version of Desperado which melted into an original song by Pat. When we finished the song, you could have heard a pin drop, then an explosion of clapping. Took my breath away!

Anyway, we met a fellow musician, David James Bowen a few years later and formed a trio called Minstrels of Mirth. That expanded into a 5 piece (shortened to Mirth.) We put out an album called First Borne. . .unfortunately, a few years later we broke up. Too many personality conflicts!

Shortly after that I moved back to El Paso Tx. (my hometown) and went back to school to seriously study cello. I continued playing as a single singer/songwriter as well as a band called Tularosa. I met my husband during that time, married and had 2 beautiful children. My husband’s job was very demanding and playing music was all nights and weekends so I gave up my music career (except for playing in a symphony) to focus on raising my children.

With my kids grown and having time on my hands, I am back at it! I play as much as I can now, I had forgotten how much I loved to perform!! I have 3 CD’s out. Two are from a cello quartet I started up a while back, La Cella Bella. One is my singer/songwriter effort. I am currently working on my second CD as a songwriter. (More of that later)

(S:) What is it about Folk and Rock music that inspires you?
(A:) My love of folk music goes way back (The Weavers, Peter, Paul and Mary, The Limeliters, then, of course Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Simon and Garfunkel, Dylan, Pete Seeger. . .a very long list!)  I think what inspires me are the stories they tell and the message they send in the lyrics. My writing is similar in that most of what I write has a message or a story either social or every day situations. As folk songwriters I think we all have a hope to “change the world” as it were or at least make a difference in someone’s life! Folk music: music of and for people!

Classic Rock is really very similar to folk in that there is sometimes an underlying message in the lyrics and, of course, there is the beat! I love Talking Heads, for example, because I cannot stay still when I listen! Besides that I love their lyrics and I think David Byrne is a genius! My all time favorite rocker is Bonnie Raitt! She sings with so much passion and her lyrics are so relatable! She definitely moves me!

(S:) Tell us about life on the road
(A:) Early in my career, I spent a lot of time on the road. For about a year or so, we were on the road so much that I got rid of my apartment, put my stuff in storage and stayed with friends when I would have a day off! When I was younger, it was very exciting! Going new places, meeting new people, the parties, the performing, it was my dream! Later though, after we became a 5 piece band, life on the road became difficult. We started playing dives and strip clubs. Accommodations were shaky at best, bordering on filthy. Bands had a reputation of trashing rooms so, as a result, venues would put the bands up in the worst rooms! Pat and David were a “couple”(they eventually got married) and I was single. I got to where I was pretty lonely.

There were times that it was still a lot of fun, like when we played in Halifax and met up with Dr. Hook band. Those guys were a ton of fun! Or the time we played in Ottawa, went to a Supertramp concert and got invited to the after concert party. I got a chance to play some cello with Roger Hodgson! And then there were times like when we played in a small town on the St. Laurence Seaway called Rimouski. We were there for 2 weeks and stayed walking distance from the shore of the seaway. I remember watching the tide go in and out many times. It was lovely! Those were the good times!

(S:Who has influenced you in your songwriting?
(A:) That is kind of a tough question! I partly answered that in a previous question but, I think the main influence on writing at this current time is Bob Dylan. This is mostly because of something he said in an article I read. The interviewer asked how he came up with ideas for his songs and, essentially said, “I don’t write about anything new, I just say the same things in a different way.” That really struck me. I started listening to his music again, with different ears, and thinking of my own writing in a totally different way.

Joni Mitchell is a story teller extraordinaire! I listened to her poetry, her crafting. I can’t come close to her as a song writer but, she inspires me to grow and strive for better songs.

Then there is Bonnie Raitt’s passion! One thing I can say for sure, she has brought out the passion in me! The Beatles have also had an influenced me. I think their popularity was largely due to the fact that their songs were about every day situations. Things we can all relate to. I do try to achieve that in my writing.

folk musician
Photo courtesy of Alison Reynolds 

(S:) So are you working on a new album?
(A:) I am currently working on a new album. I haven’t yet decided on a title, but, it looks like there will be quite a few songs on it with social content. “Care” is a song about taking care of our environment, “Listen to Your Heart” is all about finding your path, “Love Makes It True” is about how we are all connected and so on. 

On my “Back to You” CD, I added 3 older songs, Back to You, Please Don’t Tell Me and Childhood’s End, mostly because they were requested by friends from my “Mirth” days. Two of them are on the First Borne album but, I really didn’t like the production on them, so I decided to do them again MY way!

The new CD will have all current songs (I have a TON of new songs! It was tough deciding which ones to record!) The instrumentation will be much the same. I live in a small town without much choice in instrumentation! I will add cello to some but not too much, and have found a good mandolin player to add his touch to some and a few vocalists (I did all the harmonies on the last CD. Not that that’s a bad thing, you just don’t get the different timbres of different voices!)

Anyway, I am rather excited about it and am trying to take my time so as not to make too many mistakes!

(S:What advice would you give a young folk musician?
(A:) In a nutshell. . .Hang in there!! Folk music is NOT dead, there is an audience out there! Also, stay true to yourself and your art, don’t compromise for the sake of popularity. Our art is a noble cause!

We finished are interview with a few less serious questions! To get a flavour of what really rocks or is it folks Alison's musical boat.

(S:Techno or Heavy Metal?
(A:) Oh dear!! I suppose if I had to choose I’d say Heavy Metal. For me, there is a bit more substance to the music although I have heard some decent Techno! Metallica changed my mind about Heavy Metal when I did an arrangement for my cello quartet of Nothing Else Matters. Great song, lots of musicality and content! Then when I heard them do Whiskey in a Jar, which is an old folk song, they totally won me over.

(S:) Cello or Violin?
(A:) That’s a “no brainer” ha ha! Cello of course!! Cello is said to be closest to the human voice of all the stringed instruments, I think that’s one of the reasons I love it so much! I love the mellowness of it’s sound and the huge range it has. . .I’m a mellow kind of gal!

(S:) Folk rock or acoustic folk?
(A:) That one is tough! Guess I am more of an acoustic type, but since I have discovered and learned the art of looping, I love the way I can rock out on some songs! I do tend to lean more towards acoustic though!


My thanks goes to Alison for the time she has given and wish her every success for the future. You can check out her website and youtube channel for all the latest news and tour dates. Details given.

Go on time to try some different music. 


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